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CA drought monitor

Drought Brings Water Rationing

CA drought monitorWith December 2013 ending without rainfall, California’s driest year on record is hurting crops and cattle and will likely cause more water rationing in 2014.

Ranchers are being forced to spend on hay and molasses this dry winter; usually cattle graze on green pastures during the rainy months, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Some are planning to sell or slaughter their herds to cut costs.

High demand is more than doubling hay prices. The newspaper says good alfalfa usually costs about $120 a ton but this year it’s going for $260 a ton, forcing ranchers to sell their herds. Jim Warren, who owns 101 Livestock auction house in Aromas, says in an ordinary January, only about 100 or so animals are sold. He predicts selling 500 to 700 this month.

Folsom, Calif.’s water agency issued a “Stage 3” water conservation order late last month, requiring all businesses and residents to cut their water consumption by 20 percent, the Sacramento Bee reports. Landscape irrigation is allowed only two days a week and during limited off-hours. The order also prohibits washing down streets, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks or buildings, and requires construction sites to get city approval before using water.

Other Sacramento-area water agencies are expected to impose strict drought rules this month, the newspaper says.

California’s $44.7 billion agriculture industry is also hurting from the state’s drought, which in December prompted state water officials to tell San Joaquin Valley farmers that they will likely only receive 5 percent of the water they were expecting in 2014.

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